by ROWENA OREJANA
A senior adviser to the bishops has expressed hope that Rome will be able to find a way to appoint a Maori bishop to help boost the faith of Maori.
Bishop Takuira Max Mariu, the first and only Maori Catholic bishop, was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Hamilton by St Pope John Paul II in 1988. He died in 2005, after serving the diocese for 17 years.
Recently Pope Francis announced the appointments of Stephen Lowe as Bishop of Hamilton and John Dew as cardinal.
“It would be very destructive to think that Takuira’s ordination as bishop was kind of like a token extra, that there’s nothing serious behind it or there’s no intention to have another Maori bishop, that sort of thing,” Sr Tui said.
She said there are pakeha priests who can speak Te Reo Maori fluently and are able to work well with the people.
“But in the end, it isn’t a Maori bishop. It’s a bishop who can speak Maori. So, we have to hope Rome would find a way to [appoint another Maori bishop],” she said.
Te Runanga, the commission advising the bishops’ conference and individual bishops on all matters relating to the pastoral care of Catholic Maori, told the bishops that more work needs to be done around evangelisation to strengthen Maori faith in New Zealand.
Sr Tui said both Church and Maori should find a way to encourage young people to discern priestly vocations.
There are about 10 Maori priests and three deacons.
She said there is a level of alienation going on at the grassroots. “People are moving away. They haven’t lost their faith, but they’ve lost their source of nourishment within the faith context,” Sr Tui said.